Work commitments have made me miss the previous two Lambourne Gamesdays, but 1990 saw me on a train (with the customary loony in the next seat) heading East for my first visit to Terry Goodchild's famous one day sports gaming con. This year it took place in a room over a pub in Ipswich and allowing for this location, I hardly expected over forty gamers to appear from all parts of the country and abroad. But come they did and boy was it cosy. The list of attendees reads like a Who's Who of sports gaming: Bob Valvano came in from the States, Ellis Simpson trekked down from Glasgow, Michele Montagni and Giorgio Salvadego came from Italy, Mike Clifford came from Crystal Palace and the Walking Wisden came from another planet. Sorry, in- joke. Eamon Bloomfield, Roger Seaman, Mike Fairweather, Andy Scarfe (Drop Kick designer), Lee Wykes, George Urwin, Geoff Packe, Clive Ruscoe and many others were also present and I just know I've forgotten someone important.
Terry Goodchild had arranged a comprehensive programme of events covering new Lambourne games, old favourites and the ever-expanding computer range which lasted from 9am till late. Being a subversive type, I managed to recruit several gamers throughout the day to try some other 'sports' games such as Formel Eins, Grand Prix and Sechs Tage Rennen and I also played my first game of Tourspel, the Dutch cycling game, which has much merit but is way too slow and the chance cards are a little silly. Around the room there were various tournaments in progress including several games of The World of Motor Racing with its new Indy 500 expansion, a replay of the Five Nations rugby, some Metric Mile and a couple of designers showing off their prototypes. Bob Valvano had his complete range of games for sale (including the excellent Pressure Putt golf) and promptly sold off the whole lot for two pounds a throw when Mike Clifford and I were out to lunch. I was not a happy man. Mike, who had managed to buy Bob's 'Good 'ole Boys' NASCAR game earlier in the day reports that this is a must-have item. My dollars are winging their way as we speak.
Highlights on the Lambourne front were a new replay tennis game, Centre Court, featuring all time great players (each full game takes around 40 minutes) and the epic Marathon Man which actually managed to run well over 'real time simulation'. I think about twelve players with a team of runners each played this one for around five hours and many looked as if they'd run a marathon when they finished. Gaming Fatigue Syndrome aside, it was a big hit and it uses a clever variant of the Metric Mile system. For those interested, I am not sure of the availability of this one. Terry produced a signed, limited edition of twenty copies (but without the massive board) which were all sold and I'm not clear whether any more will be printed. Terry claims this limited collector edition is a tribute to me, presumably as a confirmed anal retentive. I'm deeply honoured of course, but Terry, I really would have liked a number lower than No 20. No, just joshing. Sadly, Wings over France didn't appear and will now be out in the new year but we are promised a speedway card game in the Sporting Deals series and, licks lips, an expansion kit for Metric Mile featuring a load of new runner cards which is available now. Gosh, I hope Rick Wolhuter is in there somewhere.
As is traditional, much of the weekend was taken up with talk about sport, sports games and various discussions on what we'd like to see improved or published. It may sound a little naff, but this discourse is the real attraction of these events for me. I don't play solo, I am lucky enough to be able to play two player games at any time and the big multi-players aren't really crucial to my lifestyle, so these gatherings see me chatting a lot and listening to views of informed gamers who continue to amaze me with their depth of knowledge and ideas. Thankfully, I am not alone in this and clumps of animated gamers could be seen discussing the strengths and failings of soccer games over dinner or sneaking up and reminding Terry once again that we want a cycling game and we want it yesterday.
All the games mentioned and the essential Replay Report newsletter are available from Lambourne Games, 8 Waters Avenue, Carlton Colville, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 8BJ and if this seems like a shameless plug that's because it is. Terry is one of the few people doing anything positive for sports gaming and is a thoroughly nice chap to boot. As several people said to me over the weekend, Terry is a man with a unique talent for sports game design and there are enough clever Lambourne systems out there now to qualify for permanent fame. Write now, buy some games (Metric Mile for one has universal appeal and is playable by anyone) and help make the next Lambourne game a stronger possibility (as long as it's the Tour de France).
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